BP looks to net-zero goal with new green hydrogen project

Lucy Harley-McKeown
·2-min read
Hydrogen could be an important path to a net-zero future and is mainly used in industrial processes today. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters
Hydrogen could be an important path to a net-zero future and is mainly used in industrial processes today. Photo: Toby Melville/Reuters

BP (BP.L) is teaming up with Dutch wind power group Orsted (ORSTED.CO) on a green hydrogen project in Germany.

The project is planning to build a renewable energy plant, including a 50 megawatt (MW) electrolyser, at the Lingen refinery, harnessing power from the North Sea to split water into hydrogen and oxygen.

The move would to replace 20% of natural gas-based hydrogen at the plant.

Louise Jacobson Plutt, BP's senior vice-president for hydrogen, told Reuters this could be expanded to up to 500 MW at a later stage to replace all of Lingen's fossil fuel-based hydrogen.

The financial details of the project have not been disclosed by either company, but it is expected that production will begin in 2024.

In February, BP chief executive Bernard Looney announced his intentions to transform the company into a net zero carbon firm by 2050. It marked one of the most ambitious climate pledges in the industry and possibly the most radical change in BP’s history.

Hydrogen could be an important path to a net-zero future and is mainly used in industrial processes today.

This month, developers have begun testing to see if it is a viable option to power ships.

Oil major Royal Dutch Shell (RDSB.L) also restated its commitment to hydrogen in September, which it sees as "advantaged over other potential zero-emissions fuels for shipping."

READ MORE: Climate crisis: Government investing 'only 12%' of what is needed to reach net-zero

Last week, Looney said his plans to shift the company away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy is in the long-term interests of shareholders.

“This isn’t charity, this isn’t altruism — it has to be grounded in economic reality,” he told the Confederation of British Industry (CBI)’s annual conference.

“Hopefully over time... people will see that this strategy is not alone the right thing for the world, but importantly its the right thing for long-term shareholder value.”

Looney’s pledge represented a significant departure from predecessor Bob Dudley, who had called proposals to move to renewable energy by 2050 as “unrealistic” and stressed the continued importance of fossil fuels.

However, the break comes after significant pressure on BP to address climate issues. Looney took over from Dudley at the start of 2020 and BP’s head office was blockaded by Greenpeace activists on his first day. Climate activists also staged a three day protest at the British Museum this week over BP’s sponsorship of the institution.

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